A comprehensive scientific study at Harvard Medical School led by Dr. Herbert Benson has proven that meditation changes our bodies on a genetic level. The study found that in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more disease-fighting genes were active, compared to those who didn’t practice relaxation.
In particular, the genes that were switched on protect against rheumatoid arthritis, high-blood pressure, infertility and pain. According to the researchers, the changes were induced by what they call the “relaxation effect”, an occurrence as powerful as any medical drug but without the side effects.
The experiment showed just how responsive genes are to behavior, mood and environment. After two months of practicing relaxation, the bodies of the control group began to change. “The genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells, and protect the body from cancer, all began to switch on”, says Jake Toby, hypnotherapist at London’s BodyMind Medicine Centre, who teaches clients how to induce the relaxation effect.
The benefits of the relaxation effect are cumulative. The more you practice meditation , the greater the chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain, with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure.
Dr. Benson believes this research is important because it shows how a person’s state of mind affects the body on a physical and genetic level.

Source: Anastasia Stephens, SMH


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